Return to Skaro was the first audio story in the anthology The First Doctor Adventures: Volume Four. It was written by Andrew Smith and featured David Bradley as the First Doctor, Claudia Grant as Susan Foreman, Jemma Powell as Barbara Wright and Jamie Glover as Ian Chesterton.
The story is a direct sequel to The Daleks, with the original TARDIS crew returning to the planet some decades after the previous story's events. Andrew Smith called it an "alternative sequel" to the serial. (BFX: Return to Skaro) He intended to set the story between The Daleks and The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and explain how the Dalek race survived the former story so that they could return in the latter. (VOR 132)
Other stories which may be considered sequels are: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, which brought back the Daleks; The Evil of the Daleks, which saw the reappearance of Skaro and the Dalek City; Planet of the Daleks, which reintroduced the Thal conflict; or even Genesis of the Daleks, which is more accurately a prequel. However, none of these serials are necessarily direct follow-ups in the same way as Return to Skaro. Vortex magazine cheekily called it "the second Dalek story". (VOR 132)
Towers of Skaro (1)
Despite protestations, the Doctor uses the fast return switch in an attempt to return Ian and Barbara home. The TARDIS instead lands on Skaro once again many years after their original arrival. Since then, the radiation levels have fallen and life is returning to the forest, with vegetation reclaiming the Dalek City. Huge towers releasing electrical discharge are also placed around the area.
The time travellers encounter members of the Thal military led by Kreos. Delighted to meet these figures of Thal legend, he brings them to the Thal City and introduced them to the High Leader Damadus, the great-grandson of Alydon and Dyoni. The Thals have built the City using technology recovered from the Daleks, and the huge ionisation towers are reducing the radiation in the atmosphere. The Doctor meets the Thal's Chief Scientist, Tryana, as well as her assistant Boden and son, Jyden.
While Tryana explains her work, Jyden speaks with Susan and convinced her to explore the Dalek City with him, even though it is off limits to all but scientific teams. They sneak away and reach the gates of the City before the others realise they are gone. They gain entry into the seemingly-abandoned city. They are unaware that the Daleks are alive and observing their movements.
The Hidden Enemy (2)
The Doctor, Ian, Tryana, Kreos and some Thal soldiers depart for the Dalek City to find Susan and Jyden, while Barbara remains in the Thal City in case they return.
Susan leads the way through the City using her recollection of her previous visit. She finds power readings originating from a secret level beneath the rest of the city and they leave to investigate, all the time observed in secret by the Daleks. They recognise Susan, as well as Ian and the Doctor.
On the secret level, the Daleks allow them access to a hidden chamber, to prevent them from returning to the Thal City and coming back with reinforcements. The Doctor and his team also discover the secret level. Tryana easily finds a means to access the chamber but she, the Doctor and Ian become separated from Kreos and his men on the other side.
In the Thal City, Barbara learns about those among the Thals who are wary of their new ways and advocate a return to their pacifist roots. Among them is Tryana, despite her role as the Chief Scientist.
The Doctor, Ian and Tryana are reunited with Susan and Jyden after the latter two are pursued by two live Daleks. Tryana leads them to another room housing a Dalek mutant in a large tank. Tryana introduces the mutant as the Dalek Supreme and reveals that she is working with the Daleks.
Friend or Foe? (3)
The Dalek Supreme explains that this secret level - the incubation level - was sealed off from the rest of the City during the Thal-Dalek battle. Tryana and the Dalek Supreme reassure the others that their intentions are good. They wish to cooperate the rebuilt Skaro so that there may be lasting peace. As evidence, they point out the two Daleks are not armed with gunsticks.
Tryana explains that she found this level of the City on a previous survey and agreed to help the Daleks by providing them power from the Thal City. As a show of good faith, the Dalek Supreme sends the unarmed Daleks back to the Thal City as emissaries. They return with Kreos, Susan and Jyden.
When the Daleks are presented to Damadus, he convenes the Thal Council who remain unconvinced. The Daleks ask that they be allowed to appeal to the wider Thal population.
The Doctor and company remain in the Dalek City to conduct further investigations. They examine a tunnel from which Tryana linked up the power feed between the cities. They find a secret passage leading all the way to the Thal City that Tryana was unaware of. At the discovery, the Dalek Supreme drops the peaceful pretence and orders the trio captured, although Ian escapes.
The Daleks ready themselves for a final assault on the Thal City. Mutants from the incubators are placed inside hundreds of inert casings. The Dalek Supreme transfers from its tank to a black casing to lead the Daleks directly. The army awakens and erupts in a war cry: "Death to the Thals!"
Death to the Thals! (4)
Tryana is killed by the Dalek Supreme after outliving her usefulness. The Doctor is spared as the Daleks have an interest in learning the secrets of his space-time vessel for themselves.
In the Thal City, Damadus later reveals the Dalek emissaries to the rest of the Thals. Many are fearful but the Daleks claim they come with a message of peace to all Thals. However, the Dalek quickly reveal that the only means of lasting peace is through total Dalek victory. The ionising station under Dalek control begins firing into the streets, killing many Thals.
The main attack begins as the Dalek army arrives and the Thals retreat. Susan is captured as a hostage to blackmail the Doctor. When the Thals begin to fight back, some of the Daleks are overpowered but the huge force is too strong. The Thal military adopts hit-and-run tactics and avoids standing battles.
Ian and Jyden sneak past the Daleks using an empty casing from Tryana's lab and enter the Dalek City by pretending Ian is a prisoner. The casing is armed and Jyden inside fights off the Supreme Dalek, rescuing the Doctor and Susan. Using the same tactic, Ian raids the ionising station and destroys the Daleks within.
The Doctor reprograms the station to home in on pure Skaronium. The discharges halt the Dalek attack and the survivors retreat. The Dalek Supreme then rallies the Daleks for a second assault against the weakened Thal defences. However, Ian and the Thals boost the power being fed into the Dalek City and everything overloads, destroying the Daleks and the City itself.
The time travellers say their goodbyes to the Thals and depart Skaro. Yet the Thals remain unconvinced that their troubles with the Daleks are truly over and resolve to be vigilant and ready in the future.
In flight, the Doctor assures his companions their next landing will take them somewhere they have never been before and where they will be "totally unnoticed." The TARDIS lands and the doors creak open...
- The Doctor - David Bradley
- Barbara Wright - Jemma Powell
- Ian Chesterton - Jamie Glover
- Susan - Claudia Grant
- Jyden - James Camp
- Kreos - Nigel Hastings
- Tryana - Tracy Wiles
- Damadus - Alisdair Simpson
- Daleks - Nicholas Briggs
- It has been "fifty cycles" since the Thal-Dalek battle.
- Skaronium is the Thal word for Dalekanium.
- Alydon and Dyoni are the great-grandparents of Damadus.
- Depending on whether Return to Skaro takes place before or after Domain of the Voord, either the Voord or the Daleks are the first enemies to chronologically have a rematch with the Doctor. Both of these stories were written by Andrew Smith, featuring foes created by Terry Nation. The Daleks indisputably remain the first from a production standpoint following The Dalek Invasion of Earth.
- Andrew Smith rewatched The Daleks to take notes in preparation for writing this story. He ended up writing 10 pages comprised of almost 3,000 words. (VOR 132)
- The Doctor remarks that "Extermination" is a phrase which "fits so easily on the Dalek tongue." This alludes to the fact that, while the Daleks did use that phrase in their original appearance, as well as a few instances of "Exterminated", "Exterminate" was not established as their famous catchphrase until later. The Black Dalek first used the word in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, and it became far more frequent from The Chase onwards.
- The Dalek Supreme resides inside a tank full of nutrients. In Doctor Who in an Exciting Adventure with the Daleks, the novelisation of The Daleks, the Dalek leader was housed inside a Glass Dalek casing.
- In Episode 2, Andrew Smith has Jyden refer to a torch as a "firelight". This was in reference to his interpretation of a line in The Daleks in which the Thals refer to battery-powered torches as "fire". Smith believed this was due to Terry Nation's script intending for the use of flame torches but the props department provided the production with powered torches. (BFX: Return to Skaro, VOR 132)
- An animated prequel to the story, in the style of a Hartnell-era cliffhanger, was created by Chris Thompson to tie in with the story's release, being put out on the Big Finish YouTube channel under the title of A return to Skaro for the First Doctor..., and, a short while later, on the Doctor Who YouTube channel as The Doctor Returns to Skaro!. However, due to being labelled a "trailer", this story is not considered a valid source by this Wiki.
- In terms of production, The Evil of the Daleks in 1967 saw the Doctor's proper return to Skaro, although the First Doctor had returned once before that in the 1964 Cadet Sweets cigarettes short story Doctor Who and the Daleks.
- There are many references to the TARDIS crew's last visit to Skaro. (TV: The Daleks)
- The Doctor uses the fast return switch despite concern over the trouble it previously caused. (TV: The Edge of Destruction) Ian and Barbara used it previously to come back to Destination after being taken away by the Master. (AUDIO: The Destination Wars)
- The Dalek City is covered in vegetation after years of inactivity. (AUDIO: The Curse of the Daleks)
- The Doctor, Susan, Ian and Barbara have become legends among the Thals. (TV: Planet of the Daleks)
- Boden pranks the TARDIS crew with an empty Dalek casing, (TV: The Space Museum) which is later used for purposes of infiltration. (TV: The Daleks, Planet of the Daleks The Witch's Familiar, COMIC: The Doctor Strikes Back)
- Varga plants exist near the Dalek City. (TV: Mission to the Unknown, GAME: City of the Daleks, COMIC: The Only Good Dalek)
- Tryana notes that the Daleks have a "talent for mining and drilling." (TV: The Dalek Invasion of Earth)
- Dalek mutants are placed inside their casings after being scooped out of an incubator pool. They are also defeated by an excess of power. (TV: The Power of the Daleks)
- Some of the characters note that there may be other Daleks elsewhere on Skaro. (PROSE: Doctor Who and the Dalek Invasion of Earth)
- The Daleks intend to study the TARDIS to discover the secrets of time travel, at which the eventually succeed. (TV: The Chase, The Daleks' Master Plan, Day of the Daleks, et al.)